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1 Kings 10:1-13 – The Queen of Sheba

Summary

By coming to Solomon's court, the Queen of Sheba testifies to Solomon's wealth and wisdom.

Analysis

Sheba, present-day Yemen in southwest Arabia, was an important commercial center in this period controlling most of the trade routes in Arabia and eastern Africa. The queen was probably more interested in determining the extent of this new threat to her commercial enterprises than testing Solomon's wisdom with "hard questions," the usual Hebrew word for "riddles" (Judges 14:12; Ezekiel 17:2). Since understanding "the words of the wise and their riddles" is one of the goals of true wisdom (Proverbs 1:6, emphasis added), Solomon's answers displayed his capable leadership. A short notice in the text, "there was nothing hidden from the king" (1 Kings 10:3b), shows the divine source of Solomon's sagacious responses, and the queen's breathless reaction to his mental proficiency resulted in praise of God (v. 9), trade agreements between the queen and Solomon as implied in her parting gifts, and yet more wealth for Solomon (v. 10).

1 Kings 10:1-13

Visit of the Queen of Sheba

10When the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon, (fame due to* the name of the Lord), she came to test him with hard questions. 2She came to Jerusalem with a very great retinue, with camels bearing spices, and very much gold, and precious stones; and when she came to Solomon, she told him all that was on her mind. 3Solomon answered all her questions; there was nothing hidden from the king that he could not explain to her. 4When the queen of Sheba had observed all the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built, 5the food of his table, the seating of his officials, and the attendance of his servants, their clothing, his valets, and his burnt-offerings that he offered at the house of the Lord, there was no more spirit in her.

6 So she said to the king, ‘The report was true that I heard in my own land of your accomplishments and of your wisdom, 7but I did not believe the reports until I came and my own eyes had seen it. Not even half had been told me; your wisdom and prosperity far surpass the report that I had heard. 8Happy are your wives!* Happy are these your servants, who continually attend you and hear your wisdom! 9Blessed be the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and set you on the throne of Israel! Because the Lord loved Israel for ever, he has made you king to execute justice and righteousness.’ 10Then she gave the king one hundred and twenty talents of gold, a great quantity of spices, and precious stones; never again did spices come in such quantity as that which the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon.

11 Moreover, the fleet of Hiram, which carried gold from Ophir, brought from Ophir a great quantity of almug wood and precious stones. 12From the almug wood the king made supports for the house of the Lord, and for the king’s house, lyres also and harps for the singers; no such almug wood has come or been seen to this day.

13 Meanwhile, King Solomon gave to the queen of Sheba every desire that she expressed, as well as what he gave her out of Solomon’s royal bounty. Then she returned to her own land, with her servants.

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10 February 2011

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